martedì 31 ottobre 2017

A prodigal son steps (back) into the Curmudgeon clan.

In the good old days the was only one Curmudgeon blog called The Curmudgeon.

Life was simple back then.

Okay, The Curmudgeon Express came along, but nobody really bothered to read it and it was seldom updated.
A little while back we were introduced to The Cultured Curmudgeon. No big deal, it was just that the windows series and art on our walls series were moved to this new site.

No big deal so far.

Then, out of the blue, we get The Darker Curmudgeon!

Is he promising a curmudgeonly Jack Reacher
sort of character?

Don't get your hopes up. 

I'm predicting:
  • Stories of himself and Robert in the Murray Roberts truck
  • Sad tales of trying to pick up women in the 1970s
  • Wine tasting 70s style and
  • Women he never got even close to in the 70s.
I've added a link, so I guess you can find out for yourselves.

Then you can come crawling back here to a real blog.


The Expert.

My son and I went to a double bass clinic last night featuring a guy, let's call him Norman, who had played with some important people in New York and claims were made that he was a rising star. I'd guess that he was probably in his early thirties.

Norman, a rising star in New York.
My son and I were the second and third people to arrive at the clinic, so we sat near the front. Norman was tuning up. We'd taken the step of checking him out on Youtube and, to be honest, Norman didn't really impress us that much with his playing.
A young lady arrived and the audience swelled to four. The other two and my son all study at the NZ School of Music jazz course, which is a very thorough course. I had my first double bass lesson in 1976, so it's fair to say that I'm not a beginner on the instrument.
Norman was probably a bit disappointed by the audience size, but it didn't seem to damage his rather huge ego. He checked what instruments we all played as he was expecting to attract drummers, guitarists and pianists as well. We all owned up to being bass players.
He asked me if I played jazz. I said yes, but pointed out that I also did some orchestral playing. He said that he had played orchestras too and had played a Dragonetti Concerto.

Dragonetti - note the 3 string bass.
In my head I doubted that and suspected that maybe he'd looked at the music at home in his practice room. Call it a hunch.

Then Norman did an interesting thing.
He spent nearly an hour talking about very basic principles. He told us, for instance, that the double bass was bigger than the bass guitar. The four of us sat there not wanting to appear like know it alls. I did question him on a few things that he said, but he always seemed to take the higher ground because he was The Expert. He told us, for instance, that the three finger system used on the Double Bass originated in France. As far as I know it was a German named Franz Simandl who wrote a famous treatise on this fingering. Credit where credit is due. Anyway, every serious classical bassist knows about or has studied Simandl. He told us other things that I questioned.
Finally we got to play.
He asked us if we could play an F blues walking line. If you can't play an F blues, you can't play jazz. We all did it pretty well - probably as well as him. He gave some pointers to the younger ones, some good pointers I must admit. Then time was up.

Here's the thing, Norman knew nothing about teaching.
Norman took our money ($15 each) but taught us nothing. I'd venture to say that Norman wasn't as good as he thought he was. Normal didn't think to check our prior knowledge. He could have asked questions at the start, or maybe got us all to play something.
I guess that, unless you're really, really good, it's dangerous to put on the expert hat.

lunedì 30 ottobre 2017


Okay, the latest Curmudgeon Express post was basically shit - HERE.

For once though the old boy was an inspiration - I kid you not.
He reminded me that it was time to deal to my bowel cancer test sample.
Now I'm not aware that I have this condition, please don't worry, they're doing a big screening programme with us slightly older people.
Oh the joys of being a pensioner!
I put off the procedure for as long as I could, until they sent me a reminder letter and I knew they weren't going to leave me alone until it was done.
If I survive this one, I'm sure it will be the first of many such medical adventures as I continue to age mature.

I'll spare you the details but at least I can honestly say, without the need to be figurative, that the  letter I sent today was shit.

Back to bass practice.

I thought that this will probably be the first time that The Curmudgeon will be relieved that I posted a double bass picture.

Don't give me culture.

Obviously Rob Muldoon and The Knobs aren't around these days so, when one wants a little culture, one heads HERE.

The blog The Cultured Curmudgeon offered us the better things in life, but what has it really given us?
Four posts.
Yes, that's right, four posts.

We started off in The Curmudgeon's northern abode. Thank Robert's god that at he stayed away from a long lecture about his windows and the blown over garden seat and stayed with his paintings.

I actually liked this one and was feeling optimistic
about the blog at this point.
Next up we got a white head thing he'd bought overseas.

I liked this.
I also liked the fact that we'd had pretty consistent posting at this point.

Then we got a thing about a diva - it was sort of related to a post on his other site. He told us he was a happy chappie.

Then the final post about a husband and wife team of painters.

So the posts tend to be about things hanging in his hose - Sort of similar to The Curmudgeon's northern window series.

The last post was on 23rd October. Then, it seems, culture stopped.

Is there nothing else happening in the world of culture? 
Maybe he has run out of things to show us in his house?
Come on The Cultured Curmudgeon, what's going on?

Just popped in to catch up on the latest at The Curmudgeon Express.

The Curmudgeon Express
That place is like a bloody zimmer frame!

The word Express is quite an emotive word. I was thinking, "Here's a place I can go for a short read when I'm in a bit of a hurry."

The branding has a look of urgency about it.

This is what you see.
The reality is that the place was last updated on 23rd October with a moaning little story about some dad with a naughty kid.
Big deal. Actually not something that people will be going back to re read seven days later.

In my kindness I thought that maybe I should give some suggestions for a re branding...

The Curmudgeon Express


The Curmudgeon Express

domenica 29 ottobre 2017

Aunty moves towards 98 years.

Celebrating a little early - her actual 
birthday is next Tuesday.
All the boys were there.

Daryl advises Robert on old photos.
Tracey wonders if she should wake Rod.

Robert supplies a bit of humour.

Aunty has (obviously) had a very long life and it was interesting looking at very old photos. They gave an insite into adventures from many years ago.

I think the three men in the boat were just after a photo opportunity and were probably not making a reference to Jerome K. Jerome's book.

sabato 28 ottobre 2017


Another day starts.

The magic morning drink.
Okay, so I've been doing a lot of double bass practice, and I mean a lot.
This is good because yesterday I got a call asking me to return to the Wellington Chamber Orchestra.*
I said, "I'd love to."
This is a very good orchestra and the weekly commitment of an orchestra is really good for one's playing.
It's also a chance to get to know music I wouldn't normally listen to. This season they're working on a trombone concerto by a guy called Tomasi, a Lilburn concerto for orchestra and a Sibelius symphony. There will be a concert in December.

* I played a concert with them in 2016

venerdì 27 ottobre 2017

I've been practising cartwheels.

This is my latest.

Congratulations to Robert on his acquisition of a snare drum and accesories.

I guess those 40 Rudiments are going
to keep him busy for a while.
Here's a site that he might like to visit...

Remember Robert that practice makes perfect - and slow practice is the best form.

We at Richard's Bass Bag* wish you the best with your drumming.

* the original bass bagging site

giovedì 26 ottobre 2017

Oh, and here's a little bonus for Robert.


By the way, I'm playing on an English Dictionary and not The Bible.

Okay Richard (of RBB), what's the plan for today?

I'm home today...


...and I have a plan.

I'm getting into some serious double bass practice.

That will mean getting my solo repertoire back up and running.

I'll be working on tone (arco {German} and pizzicato), time, slow practice and all the other important things.

martedì 24 ottobre 2017

So Robert has a snare drum.

I heard it on his post.

I'm sitting at my computer, with coffee, this morning.

He taunts me with...
RBB has developed video technology.
I must keep ahead or be overwhelmed.
What if I use his new found technology and use windows Movie Maker to edit it.
It's a race for expression.

Okay, he's taken my playing (this solo) and distorted it,

but I really only hear one thing on his video...


Curse the person who sold him that!

It's a challenge.
What can I do?

I turn around and head towards my back room.
Hey, what's that?

60s/70s Premier Jazz drum kit.


Your move Robert.

lunedì 23 ottobre 2017

Labour Day.

If today wasn't Labour Day I'd be working at NLHS, so thanks to all those women who made this holiday possible.

I haven't really got anything to tell you this morning. I deleted yesterday's post because I didn't really like it, but now I'm sitting here with nothing to say. 

There's always the video camera though.

Here's a little video I made the other day called 'Back scratcher takes a walk''.
Sit back and enjoy.

And here's something Robert will like...

domenica 22 ottobre 2017

Recording Test Run.

Just fooling around here (yesterday) with the chords to Manhã de Carnaval, more comonly known as the theme from Black Orpheus.

That's my Jim Dandy parlour guitar.

sabato 21 ottobre 2017


Oggi io parlo con Antonio al Skype. Questo è un rituale di sabato. 
Io chiederò, "Secondo te cosa... ?" o "Qual è il tuo piano per il weekend?"

It's cool for Italians to use the word weekend instead on fine settimana.

Questa settimana ho lavorato per due giorni alla mia vecchia scuola e sto dipingendo la casa. Mia casa. E` stata una settimana occupata.

Chalk boards are a thing of the past.
Yesterday I took a class in the woodword room, though it's not called woodwork anymore. The class was called Design and Technology, or something like that. Basically it was woodwork with a bit of cardboardwork thrown in. There are some big saws in that room and I had to use them - very carefully! Missing fingers don't go well with my string instruments.

Though this guy got by.
I'm back in the woodwork room for two days next week.

mercoledì 18 ottobre 2017

The new fridge - it's a cold job but some appliance has to do it.

I'm going to share something that has happened in our household. Before you judge us for our stupidity or lack of planning please remember that none of us is perfect. 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.'
A little while ago we had to replace our aging fridge. It is always sad to lose a member of your kitchen appliance team, but no modern whiteware lasts forever. It's called built in obsolescence and I guess it was 'built in' to give newer whiteware a chance to experience being in a kitchen. Fair enough. We (my girlfriend and I) decided basically what we wanted in a fridge and headed out shopping. It didn't take too long to find something that seemed to fit our needs - I was careful to measure it to make sure that it would fit into our kitchen 'reserved for fridge' space. I had it all covered; or so I thought. Two guys came and installed the fridge into our small kitchen. Installing a fridge, once you've moved it to the designated spot is not too complicated. What the installer has to do is pick up the power plug (on the end of a cord that is attached to the fridge), push it into the three little holes in the wall and push the switch on the wall down. These guys knew what they were doing. Soon the fridge purred into action and the two technicians left.

In our kitchen the fridge is the closest appliance to the door and could look over the dishwasher and out a kitchen window, if it had eyes. The sink is next to the dishwasher and to the left of the sink is a bit of bench space that follows the room around to the left, over some cupboards before making another left turn and meeting the cooker. We now pass the microwave and, hey presto, we have done a complete circuit of this little kitchen and are back at the fridge. Okay, let's pretend I'm cooking dinner. I can stand in the middle of our kitchen and touch each appliance and facility (sink, drawers and cupboards). So far so good. I'll begin to make a curry in this example. First thing I take the heavy casserole pot that is sitting near the electric elements above the oven. I like to bake my curries. I remove the lid and take the olive oil from the cupboard under the miccowave. I swing around and grab a cutting board that is sitting on a drying rack just to the right of the sink and above the dishwasher. The onions are stored in a basket to the left of the sink. I choose one and go to the third drawer below the bench between the sink and the onion basket. I take out my big sharp cutting knife. It's a beauty - made in Germany. I peel and chop up the onion and put it and some oil into the casserole pot. If you're a curry fan and are wondering where the spices are, don't worry they're coming last. First of all I'll need some chicken from the fridge. Our new fridge that seems to be running perfectly. I open the top door that lets me into the cooler compartment and not the freezer compartment. No I don't. This is where things start to go wrong. Okay, we all have problems in life - some bigger, some smaller. This fridge stands quite tall (1655mm - that's just over 165cm) but to some of you what I am about to share might not seem as big as some of the problems you have faced in your lives. I just ask you to remember, before you judge the size of the problem I am about to explain, that everything is relevant.
The door doesn't open and then I remember why - don't forget that I loaded food into this fridge, it didn't come with food included. No big problem though because I still had the food that was in our old fridge. We won't starve.
The door won't open because it opens from the other side.
Okay, okay, really this is a problem that we could live with. It is a little inconvenient and will definitely add to cooking times and movement around the kitchen. It also gives us a built in frustration factor. It was easy to discover that the fridge is designed so that the door can be changed over. I went back to the fridge shop (that also sells lots of other things but my focus was on fridges) and asked if I could get a door directional changing kit. The nice lady said that for $145 they could get one and the two technicians could come back and do the change over. Since they had been so capable with the initial installing I decided to go with that rather than attempting to do the job myself. Time has passed, a longer time than it takes to get double bass strings from the USA or to make an appointment and get a bow rehaired, an still no word.
The upside is that we're getting better at opening the fridge at a funny angle. The down side is that, if it takes much longer, we'll have to relearn opening from the easier angle.
Well, there's our story. I do wonder if all fridges are initially built to open from left to right or, if we had thought to ask, they had right to left ones in the shop (obviously as well as other things for sale, but we've been through that). If they don't this seems to discriminate against small kitchens that have their 'reserved for fridge' space by the door and facing the dishwasher that is just below a window that the fridge could look through if it had eyes.

martedì 17 ottobre 2017

Have paint, will cover.

I just had a beer and not a wine because, unlike my older friend The Curmudgeon, I've been doing men's work today.

First coat - the windows took forever.
This is the next wall I need to finish.

Just needs two more coats.

Here's a part I finished a little while back.

Complete with flag.

The hardest part will probably be the high strip along the top.

It's pretty bloody high!
The back of the house will be the final task (3 walls).

At least the top bits are clean now.


Buongiorno a tutti i lettori di questo blog.
Oggi è nuvoloso ma non piove.
Che significa una cosa - dipingere.
Dipingere la casa.

Thinks, "Richard (of RBB)'s painting his white."
Water based paint today, questo è maledettamente certo!

I guess The Curmudgeon won't have much time to paint, not now that he's got three blogs to maintain:
  • The Curmudgeon
  • The Curmudgeon Express
  • The Cultured Curmudgeon.
It'll be interesting to see if any get updated today. In theory The Curmudgeon Express is the easiest to update because in is supposed to contain short (quick) posts. Don't expect to hear much from The Wine Guy in tnhe coming weeks.

lunedì 16 ottobre 2017

Man at Work.

Okay, there are a lot of jobs needing to be done in and around our house. 
I have a brother, Robert, who seems to be able to fix and build anything - just like my dad.
With me it's different. Basically I win some and I lose some.
When I attempt handyman work I'm like a gambler.

"What are the odds today?"

This is particularly true when it comes to house painting because I don't do heights well.
With this fact in mind, I got a young painter in to do the worst two sides of our house. He gave us a rough quote and said it would take about two weeks. He started on New Year's Day. In August, while what he had done was very thorough, the job was over budget and still quite a way from being finished. He suffers from mental illness, so I can relate to his plight. I told him that, since I had now retired, I couldn't afford to keep throwing money at those two walls. He went off and got a full time painting job. Two months later he has not been to collect his gear - I should charge him storage, but hey.
Today I kicked off on tackling the high bits of the house. I used a ploy that I 'invented' last time painting was required. I use scrapers, sand paper and paint brushes on poles.

This works pretty well, but doesn't totally rule out the need for occasionally going up a ladder.
I have a lot of stuff in my shed, so I decided to search for a primer rather than buying one. This, I must add, happened after the prep work was done - not an easy job.
We are painting our house white. The old colour was a sort of grape colour. The job started pretty well as I applied the primer to the area up near the gutter on one wall. 
I guess, like a gambler, I got a bit over confident with my hand.

Hey, that's a lady holding those cards!
I remembered that, around by the outside table out the back, there was an exposed bit of wood. Maybe I should prime that too?


I used my paint roller thingy on a big long pole to paint something that was about a mitre metre from the ground. The pole was awkward at that height and hard to control. I got big white blobs where the paint was still grape coloured. I attacked the area with watery cloths.
No luck, just a bigger mess. I knew Shelley would probably not appreciate the aesthetics.

An example of bad aesthetics.

Eventually the planned painting job was finished and I went to wash the brushes in water.

No luck.

I found the paint tin and read it, this time wearing my glasses.

It was oil based!

I attacked the grape coloured wall with turps - fortunately I'd bought a few bottles some time in the past, probably when I needed meths - I always get the two confused.*
Eventually the wall was cleaned.
Then I attacked the brushes. My mission was to leave as little mess as possible.
I sort of succeeded. 

Suddenly relief teaching at schools seems quite attractive.

* please note that I don't use meths as a drink and have never started a P lab - with drinks clearskin wines are about as low as I go


School is back, but I'm not.
That is good.
I'll continue preparing the high parts of our house for painting today.

I'm talking about the white bit up near the spouting.
The white bits around the fromt are high and need treatment with a wire brush. I'll be using a wire brush on a long pole because I don't like being up that high.

Yesterday's jam was a little slow to start. A man turned up who played flaminco, so I played with him. Another violinist turned up too. All good fun, though flamenco tunes get a bit the same after a while.

Me chatting with the other violinist in a break.
I came home to see that The Curmudgeon Express had been updated and TC had left a message on my last post saying that I wouldn't like the 'them'. I finally worked out what he meant.

For example, the 'them' here is an old train.
I think the poor old chap spent too long in Yorkshire and it has effected his grammar.

"E by gum like, I be
needing a them for this
here post."
Double bass practice needed today, so I'll be off.
Enjoy your Monday and I hope you find a way not to have to go up a high ladder.

"This 'them' is certainly about height!"